My statement on being party to OWS Media’s suit against Justin Wedes

I’m one of the members of OWS Media that served Justin Wedes today over his theft of the @OccupyWallStNYC twitter handle from the dozens of editors & contributors he kicked off the boat on August 8th, 2014. We decided to sue him after weeks of backchannel demands for him to return the account to the collective of editors & contributors were brushed off, which even included allowing him to return to the boat in a capacity. Taking this to court was a last resort, as most, myself included, do not want to engage a broken justice system, but alas, here we are.

One thing I personally take great offense to, something that no dollar amount can rectify, is silencing one’s freedom of speech. In today’s social media world, I’ve seen people say some pretty awful, reprehensible & downright stupid things that have been deservedly lampooned, but I still believe in their right to say those stupid things, provided its not defamatory or threatening physical harm. So as a movement, Occupy Wall Street, and specifically the voices of this twitter handle, which seeks to elevate all people’s voices so they are heard in a political environment that is flooded with paid speech on behalf of the uberwealthy, were undermined more by Justin’s actions than any politician, tv pundit or agent of the government could have hoped to achieve.

The particular incident in which I felt precipitated Justin’s actions pertained to my tweeting from the account about Israel’s month long bombing campaign of Gaza, in which myself, along with other editors, characterized as genocidal, mass murder, baby-killing, amongst others. We tied Israel’s actions to money in American politics, and noting the phenomenon that as the whole world overwhelmingly stood against Israel, our elected leaders & power elite in America stood almost unilaterally with Israel, groveling to them, often demonizing Palestinians as subhuman garbage and below giving a fuck about. Justin emailed me, claiming that others, without naming them, had come to him with concerns about my use of the word ‘genocide’ to describe what was going on, even as others on the Tweetboat used the same characterization. I defended my characterizations of the conflict, and a littany of the actions Israel has undertaken to subvert American government to continue enabling their actions & illegal occupation, and when he still wasn’t convinced this was right, I brought the issue to the collective group’s attention. If Justin wasn’t seeking to manipulate me behind the scenes from the editors, and inventing other dissenters who never ever once brought that concern to my attention, he would have brought it to the group outright, which is how the consensus process was meant to work in the first place. A broad coalition of aligned groups worldwide, for that matter, did agree that Israel’s actions were genocidal, barbaric war crimes, and so did the entire tweetboat, except for Justin. For his part, Justin later agreed that Israel was engaging in war crimes, but by that time, it was too late for me, he had sought to try to curtail my speech without the rest of the Tweetboat noticing.

The day he locked us all out, other members of the Tweetboat were angry at Justin for continued violations of the rule that he not retweet his other accounts, which was an ongoing fight for apparently much longer than I had even been on the Tweetboat. Unceremoniously, that Friday night, Justin decided and locked us all out of the account, and changed the password & recovery options, all on his own.

Since then, New York & the world lost an incredibly interconnected twitter voice, as violence against Palestinians continued, Eric Garner was choked out of his life by the NYPD on camera over selling loosie cigarettes, and Mike Brown was executed by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

And frankly, for the record, Justin’s tweeting style is godawful & jingoistic on a PG rated level. Personally, we need @OccupyWallStNYC to return to the hard hitting, brash aggregation of voices representing New York City & the surrounding area who have no problem shaming & exposing corrupt politicians, police, prosecutors, banks, corporations, their lawyers and enablers and international war criminals, wherever and whoever they may be.

posted by joe fionda, 9/17/2014

edit: thank you to Jillian York at the EFF for pointing out I’ve been signing my personal blog anonymously! certainly was not intended.

Inside the Elevator at weev’s Appeal

 

After Andrew ‘weev’ Auernheimer’s appeal of his wrongful CFAA conviction in Philadelphia this past Wednesday, I headed off to go do the postgame rounds, so to speak. I get in the elevator with Andrew Blake, Russia Today producer, and Kaytee Nesmith.

 

Someone outside of the elevator hails “Hold the door!” as the door hip checks the suited man hurrying in.

 

“That looks like grounds for a lawsuit right there!” I joked to him.

 

“Heh, well, we’re not those sort of lawyers.” This was Glen Moramarco, the Assistant US Attorney who just argued the properness of Auernheimer’s conviction, along with his government entourage. As a rule of thumb I tend to avoid ending up in the elevator with government suits at these hearings, because especially since we were on the 19th floor, these tend to be the longest elevator rides ever. I was the only one of us three who figured it out immediately that it was Moramarco who got in the elevator.

 

Moramarco, on behalf of the government, had just blown apart the government’s own case against Auernheimer, by not only admitting he had no understanding of what Auernheimer did, but then simultaneously claiming that Auernheimer’s so-called hack of AT&T’s servers was exactly like hacking into a nuclear power plant.

 

We have a case here where…[the defense counsel] is arguing that this was completely open to everyone. But you look at the testimony of Daniel Spitler and the steps he had to take to get to this wide open Web and I’m flabbergasted that this could be called anything other than a hack. He had to download the entire iOS system on his computer. He had to decrypt it. He had to do all sorts of things—I don’t even understand what they are.”

 

For those of you that don’t know, Auernheimer, along with a co-defendent Daniel Spitler who turned government’s witness against Auernheimer, found by accident that by adding a digit to a URL on the original iPad that this left each user’s corresponding email address to which they registered the computer freely available on a public facing AT&T server. They then automated a slurper that gathered the email addresses of 114,000 iPad users, and sent it to the blog at Gawker claiming to be a group called Goatse Security. Nothing password protected was breached, no encryption cracked. Even though no identifying information besides email addresses were gathered, akin to putting together a phone book, the government argued that Auernheimer and Spitler victimized 114,000 people, 4,000 of whom were in New Jersey. None of these so-called victims came to testify nor were any actual damages proven.

 

The case has been lampooned in the hacker & tech community as the pinnacle of prosecutorial overreach and total incompetence, one where the government has a tough time even explaining the context of such crimes and computer programming language pertaining to a CFAA law that was made before the modern internet as we know it came into existence. While many rightfully despise weev as one of the most vile internet trolls out there, the technically competent community has overwhelmingly understood that his prosecution is flat out wrong.

 

Moramarco even argued at one point, pertaining to the legitimacy of the venue for weev’s case, that “It doesn’t really matter where the server is located” when the defense challenged that no aspect of this case: the actions, the servers, or the web traffic in which the actions were passed through, or even happened in New Jersey. Even if there was legitimacy to the case itself, why the hell was it brought in New Jersey, even though Auernheimer had never even been in the state before?

 

 

The elevator doors closed, and we proceeded to go down. Andrew Blake, completely oblivious to the fact that it’s Moramarco & his team in the elevator with us, reads off his notepad to me: “It doesn’t really matter where the servers are located”.

 

Time in the elevator just stopped. I felt more uncomfortable than the time I had to hunch myself over from laughing when, at Jeremy Hammond’s sentencing, Vince in the Bay went before Judge Preska to tell her he was getting pizza bombed and Chinese food bombed by Anonymous. My face tensed up, and all of a sudden I wanted to puke.

 

“Well we’ll see how the court rules” says Moramarco.

 

I had lost all sense of time and gravity by this point. I thought I was going to lose all control of my body cavities, and we’re only at the 7th floor.

 

“Looks like it passed the Derpin test” said one of the other fed suits as we approached the ground floor.

 

“Whats the Derpin test?” I asked, still ever so uncomfortable.

 

“It’s an inside joke” he replied.

 

The doors opened and I bid them good day, and let them leave first, but holding Andrew, and Kaytee, who knew exactly what happened. I must have acted like a chimpanzee the next 15 seconds trying to explain to him that he unwittingly trolled the government’s attorney making the case against weev. I didn’t stop laughing for most of that day.

——–

The next day, Moramarco and US Attorney Paul Fishman submitted an additional argument to say that Auernheimer suffered no financial hardship as a result of this prosecution. As someone who tasked himself to make sure Auernheimer didn’t kill himself before trial, like Aaron Swartz did, because he couldn’t work with computers as a result of the pretrial conditions of this prosecution, and thusly have gainful employment due to the fact people generally don’t want to hire someone under indictment, this I can assure is an outright misrepresentation.

Adding to the NSA insiders letter: Nacchio, Qwest & Pre-9/11 warrantless wiretapping

There is a great letter that was published last night by whistleblowers from the NSA, FBI and veterans of the intelligence community to Obama critical about the constitutional violations of Americans and utter waste of secret programs enacted under the umbrellas of warrantless wiretapping and Total Information Awareness.

It was reported as early as 2006 that the Bush administration authorized total, warrantless surveillance prior to 9/11, and not as a result of 9/11 as they have constantly used as a justification. When Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio refused to have his company comply with the unconstitutional spying, he was railroaded out of the company and into prison for the next decade, but the battle showed that ultimately the warrantless and total surveillance programs were being designed prior to the attacks.

NSA whistleblowers would later come forward and state that TRAILBLAZER was chosen over THINTHREAD, which had a much more bloated budget and metaphorically took the entire haystack to search for the needle, whereas the more narrowly tailored program THINTHREAD functioned with much less of a budget and unified the data of targets without violating the 4th Amendment rights of everyone. (I’ll direct whoever is reading this to their letter, rather than quoting it in it’s entirety here.)

The relevant storyline, that has been all too common for the past 15 years or so, is this: corruption in government contracting begets more corruption and abuses. National security experts, like those who signed the aforementioned letter, knew that the job was able to be done without violating the civil liberties of everyone. Instead, from the outset of the Bush administration, secret orders were put in place to put in place programs that netted certain players much larger contracts, which undermined the ability of veteran professionals to do the jobs they were already ably doing. The Bush administration then used 9/11 as a post-hoc justification for the abuses of civil liberties that they had already enabled, saying they were necessary to keep America safe, except no part of this was remotely true, and in fact very likely put us at risk of the the attack that ended up occurring.

The Case For Charging the NSA with War Crimes (an ongoing series)

Yesterday on CNN, legal commentator Jeffery Toobin argued against clemency or amnesty for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, while simultaneously lambasting Wikileaks spokesperson Kristan Hrafnsson for invoking the Nuremberg Principles in his argument as to why Snowden had a duty to break the law to uncover wrongdoing perpetrated by his superiors. Toobin retorted in a hysterical mockery that Hrafnsson was comparing the NSA to Nazi Germany, which presented an excellent opportunity to review the Nuremberg Principles.

 

Hrafnsson’s argument centered under Principle IV in regards to superiors’ orders:

 

“The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

 

 

The Principles were probably not written with the anticipation of modern telecommunications in mind, or the foreknowledge of the Internet in the 1940s. Edward Snowden acted knowing that he would continue to be complicit in a variety of criminal acts, much in the same way of the actions of whom he was inspired by: Bradley Manning. Principle IV implies that there was no way for Snowden to go up a chain of command to expose the wrongdoing while not being retaliated against, and that as Hrafnsson suggested it was necessary for Snowden to break the law to do so.

 

While Snowden’s revelations may expose multitudes of violations of the Nuremberg Principles, the relevant one at this moment to lay the foundation for a larger case against the NSA would fall under Principle VI (b):

 

(b) War crimes:

Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the Seas, killing of hostagesplunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
The wanton hacking of individuals’, business’s & foreign governments’ computers worldwide to plunder their public or private data and property not justified by any sort of military necessity, under the NSA’s aegis of ‘Information Dominance’ would certainly qualify as a violation of Nuremberg. The NSA goes so far as to brag openly about their operational capabilities and their mission:
nrol-39
NROL-39: Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach
The looting of records, both public and private, along with works of technology or art for the benefit of the empire was certainly a hallmark of the Third Reich. The Nazis would loot government offices of those that they occupied as an intelligence operation to find evidence of Jews and other undesirables areas that they conquered. (My grandmother, along with many elderly relatives of mine from Cassino, Italy did not have many of their birth and other records available because of this kind of looting.) The Dienststelle Westen – Western Agency – of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg für die Besetzten Gebiete – Reichstetler Rosenburg Institute for the Occupied Territories – would collect Jewish and Freemason texts for similar intelligence ‘research’ purposes. Likewise, when Jeremy Hammond allocuted during his sentencing that his FBI handlers were having him and others hack the websites of foreign governments, the wanton looting of data from those websites was being done with specific directions:
The N.S.A.’s elite Transgression Branch, created in 2009 to “discover, understand, evaluate and exploit” foreign hackers’ work, quietly piggybacks on others’ incursions into computers of interest, like thieves who follow other housebreakers around and go through the windows they have left ajar.
Jeffrey Toobin may have mocked Kristan Hrafnsson for invoking Nuremberg, but the reality is that the NSA’s radically overt criminal actions without any sort of military necessity, specifically data theft on a level that is so large that it is hard to even comprehend, should qualify as a war crime. What war crimes or other violations of international law that were later enabled as a result of massive data theft? 

A Non-Non-Story: NYT on the NSA-Israel collaboration

On September 11th, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewan MacAskill published a story in the Guardian detailing how the NSA shares raw, unminimized intelligence of United States citizens with Israel and their SIGINT units. The piece came with a Top-Secret “Memorandum of Understanding” between the US and Israel outlining how the intelligence would be used, and what to do if they accidentally obtained privileged communications of the US government, including those up to and including the President. Many people, including myself, were outraged, but not necessarily shocked or surprised.

 

One of those entities that also was not surprised was the New York Times. The editors were emailed a multitude of times on the matter, and found the response important enough for editor Margaret Sullivan to respond in a piece downplaying its importance: Guardian Story on Israel and N.S.A. Is Not ‘Surprising’ Enough to Cover. Strangely enough, one of the reasons Sullivan cited for not covering the story was that running journalism as an enterprise the story would somehow not generate itself. (This justification of journalistic enterprise is noteworthy of analysis at a different point.)

 

It should say something of the nature of current affairs that nobody is shocked or surprised that Israel is being handed over mountains of raw data by the NSA or other countries. It has been something detailed extensively, although maybe not prominently, by authors such as James Bamford in “The Shadow Factory”. But for a publication like the New York Times to gloss over it as ‘insignificant’ comes off as an attempt to just ignore the issue completely, or that many of the old guard at these publications are hopelessly jaded.

 

Indeed, many people just jumping into reading and researching surveillance and spying may and should be shocked to learn that the US would simply fork over personal data to the Israelis. As sovereignty is an issue in America that has a tradition of having a high importance, the idea that our government would be sending our personal data to Israel – or any nation for that matter, smacks of treason and being sold out. There are very significant questions to ask: why should a foreign nation have access to our phone calls and wiretaps? What is even the point of our sovereignty if they should?

 

The New York Times is doing itself and the global public a great journalistic disservice by not exposing the iceberg of the intelligence relationship between the US and Israel. If fear is a motivating factor for their decision to downplay its importance, others will surely pick up where they refuse to tread.

The Perversion of Legal ‘Divinity’

A central, often overlooked concept in the recent incarnation of the war against journalism and whistleblowing has turned out to be the very crux of why the war is being waged in the first place. In the years since, and actually, before the events of 9/11, a parallel shadow state with a two-tiered justice system began to rise, using the justification of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and subsequent Anthrax biological attacks on news media outlets to necessitate its existence in order to fight an enemy supposedly so dark and heinous the war needed secrecy and exceptions to the current legal norms and systems that exist in America and throughout the world. Glenn Greenwald, whose life seems to have turned into the reality TV version of Jason Bourne starring Edward Snowden, has reported about these two tiers at length for some time. An obvious thorn in the side attempting to keep the government accountable for the it’s unconstitutional excesses during the Bush-43 administration, he did not change the voraciousness of his drive of accountable reporting when Barack Obama was elected.

After the hack of HBGary, a federal contractor who makes malware detection software for the government and many of its contractors, when it’s founder went to the Financial Times to say he was going to “expose Anonymous” after it’s DdoS attack on Paypal and Visa in protest of the financial blockade of Wikileaks, one of the many revelations that was gleaned from the spilled emails was a plot to discredit Glenn Greenwald’s career with bogus information to later call him out on. Bank of America and the Chamber of Commerce, fearing a dump of information that would potentially implicate them in criminal activity, contacted the Justice Department for assistance. They referred them to Hunton & Williams, former employers of Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant AG Lanny Breuer, who then put together a team who included HBGary, Berico, Palantir and Endgame Systems. Journalist Brad Friedman wrote in the wake of the hack that he was a “Tier 1 Player” being targeted in a “disinformation/discrediting scheme that relied on high-tech tools developed for the U.S. Government’s ‘War on Terror'”. This wide-reaching disinformation plan was to be dubbed “Team Themis” – invoking the name of the Greek Titaness and first wife of Zeus, Themis, and the human embodiment of divine order.

The invocation of Themis could not make the plans of corporate-government consortium any clearer, but those without a basic understanding of the ancient mythology might not be able to make the immediate connection. The ‘Team” was a consortium dedicated to defending and preserving the divinity of their rule, in spite of the obvious criminality of the acts that human ordinance had legislated. It is the perfect allegory for current state of the US Government, one that must shroud itself in secret interpretations of the law, holding separate strata of law for the patrician and plebian classes – or, in the current sense, government and corporations against the individual people. In the case of combating Wikileaks and it’s supporters, it would become necessary to break laws to maintain their order.

Seasoned journalists like Greenwald and Friedman find themselves constantly attacked for the reporting they undertake, but like them, a younger Barrett Brown was also drawn into battle with the very same mythological construct created to defend establishment criminality. Discrediting the reporter has been a tactic as long as media has existed; in more recent history, in 2004, CBS Evening News reporter Dan Rather found himself reporting on faked memos of George W. Bush’s National Guard records, which ended up hastening his retirement. Snowden’s revelations would later show that the NSA targeted journalists who were critical of the government establishment after 9/11. Barrett uncovered in November of 2011 another plan hatched by lobbyists Clark, Lytle, Geduldig and Cranford (CLGC) that they had been hired to create negative narratives of Occupy Wall Street, who linked the lack of government actions in prosecuting bankers for the ongoing 2007 financial crisis to a revolving door of the corrupt nexus of corporate and government power. Similarly he also discovered that public relations firms like Qorvis and Bell Pottinger used similar tactics like those undertaken by Team Themis to disseminate propaganda on behalf of authoritarian dictatorships & monarchies in Bahrain, Fiji, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and elsewhere to maintain a grip of the extraction of their natural resources. Falsifying or corrupting the narrative was but one easy, yet expensive tactic the ruling class is able to afford having access to their own legal strata. Other internet technology firms partner with the NSA to hack the computers of citizens of foreign countries around the world for illegal and invasive counterinsurgency and counterintelligence programs, in furtherance of projecting these narratives.

Those journalists who dare to investigate the mechanisms of the power of the American empire often find in their adversarial battle they can be subject to a wide array of consequences, as recent events that have transpired have shown. Invoking Greek mythology to further the agenda, as many as yet unknown but named programs from the NSA, such as MORPHEUS, show that in a historical context that the corruption begotten by America’s totalitarian and offensively-minded surveillance programs has no rival in history. What journalists do here and now in fighting back against the immense pressure against a system so criminal they have needed to make everyone involved made men while shrouding it in secrecy and special exceptions, as messengers like Barrett Brown are set up to spend 105 years in prison, will define our future. We might as well be fighting gods at this point.

 

US government moves to block Bernanke testimony in AIG bailout suit

In a move that should surprise nobody, the US Government, defendant in the suit from Hank Greenberg’s Starr companies lawsuit alleging bailout of AIG was illegal and cost his company billions of dollars, USG has moved to the appeals court in an attempt to block Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke from testifying in this civil suit, as the Justice Department argues that high-ranking US officials are generally protected from “time-consuming civil litigation”.

This case, moving about as fast as the 88-year old Greenberg can run, seeks damages for Starr Companies. The US Government, in the position as defendant where they can block the testimony of a high-ranking witness crucial to the plaintiff’s legitimate case, are obviously thinking that the statements Bernanke could make, much like the thousands of pages of redacted Fed minutes, must have the power to annihilate what is left of the US’s delusion of a recovery.

Note: this writer is a former employee of AIG, and yes, everything there is as bad as you’ve probably heard it.

Another social engineering attempt from an Indian tech support firm

As has been an ongoing occurrence for me for a few months now, I have been receiving unsolicited tech support calls from India saying that I have an “error” with my non-existent Windows operated computer. Today’s guy claimed to be from an “A1Tech Support” located in NYC, despite the call originating from a (202) 202-1234 District of Columbia line.

When asked for how he knows I have a problem, he has no answer.

The previous call, where a lady tries to get me to wipe out my laptop.